The Wandering Hearts “Mother”

Chrysalis, 2024

Easy listening harmonies from UK folk/pop trio could do with some more heft.

Art work for The Wandering Hearts album "Mother"Mother’ is the third album by The Wandering Hearts. The UK trio are Chess Whiffin, Tara Wilcox and A.J. Dean-Revington. Their blend of female and male vocals on a set of songs mixing pop, folk and rock influences, is especially reminiscent of The Civil Wars. The group largely share the writing with additional contributions from others, most notably Emily Philips who is credited as co-writer on 4 tracks.

The album opens with probably the strongest track, ‘About America’. It’s not about America at all but a moving narrative about attempts at finding lost memories in a loved one with dementia. The trio play most of their trump cards here with subtle instrumentation and sweet harmonies. There is quite an English feel to the vocals which are striking and no less so when the male voice joins.

It is claimed that impending motherhood has changed the perspective of the group’s writing and this may well be the case but it certainly isn’t always evident from the lyrics. ‘Tired’ introduces A.J. Dean-Revington as lead vocalist. The English origins of the group are again evident with Richard Thompson coming to mind.  Some might find a little irony in the male member taking the lead on a song entitled ‘Tired’ given the title of the album.

Letter to Myself’ has the message of lighten up and enjoy being young (presumably before other responsibilities get in the way). ‘Hold Your Tongue’ seems a missed opportunity. The theme of asserting oneself to challenge backhanded compliments and patronising comments is worth exploring in the context of pregnancy but the track itself lacks any convincing attitude, and like a lot of the album is not especially memorable.

Not Misunderstood’ has a slightly more rock-based vocal part from Dean-Revington which is not entirely convincing, and ‘River to Cry’ is an attempt at something nearer the roots end of the Americana spectrum, with the male vocal again to the fore. Unfortunately it is the longest track on the album and somewhat outstays its welcome, falling back on a rather uninteresting pop/rock arrangement.

The album ends on quite a strong note with a solo composition by Dean-Revington, ‘What Fools Believe’. The first few bars of the melody seemed seductively familiar and this reviewer was strongly reminded of a favourite Dylan track ‘Abandoned Love’. Although the song diverges quickly into a pleasant folkie chorus it is somewhat marred by unnecessary whistling, seldom a good idea. It does leave one wondering what their version of the Dylan song would be like and indeed if a couple of covers wouldn’t have given the album a bit more weight.

While the production on ‘Mother’ is sensitive and seldom overwhelms the band’s strengths, particularly their tight and sometimes haunting harmonies, there is a sense to the album of a band in transition. It will be interesting if they stay in the middle of the road for subsequent releases or head for a more interesting direction.

6/10
6/10

About Adrian Dzialdowski 6 Articles
My 1970s LP purchases included Rickie Lee Jones, Steve Forbert and T-Bone Burnett but we didn’t call it Americana then. Hard to believe they are all still currently working. I had a hiatus in the 80s and got into blues and jazz in the 90s. However a chance purchase of an UNCUT sampler in the 2000s has led me to the current golden age of Americana.  
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Stuartstorm

Wonderful! Thanks for the hint.